Sable Chemicals shuts down, 200 workers to lose jobs

ZIMBABWE’S sole ammonium nitrate fertiliser manufacturer, Sable Chemicals, on Sunday shut down operations at its electrolysis plant due to the country’s power shortages.


At its peak, the Kwekwe-based firm consumed 80 megawatts (MW) before it recently scaled down to 40MW after shutting down five out of 10 electrolysis units.

Zesa further scaled down power supplies to the company, forcing the Jack Murehwa-led executive to shut down the entire production unit on Sunday.


“The decision has been made by the authorities that we have to reduce our power further so that the power is provided to other sectors of the economy. We are going to have to take the electrolysis off and leave the other plant, so we will still be able to bring in some ammonium and convert it,” he said.

He, however, said the company did not have the money to immediately start ammonia imports, as it was owed over $200 million by government.

Production manager Allen Manhanga said the company might also lay off about 200 of its 480 workers to reduce operating costs.

“We will need to reduce our operational costs and also to ensure that operations remain profitable by cutting our manning levels,” he said.

Sable Chemicals has always fought with Zesa over the subsidised power rates, which have seen the company buying power at 5 cents, when the industry going rate is 11 cents.

On numerous occasions, Zesa has switched off Sable Chemicals over a $30 million debt.

Murehwa said owing to the power crisis, his company had cut production by 30% from a target of 100 000 tonnes of AN to just 70 000 tonnes.


  1. Mukati gore rino tinowana fertilizer muno? Anyaway regai vavharewo, ndoo vadiiwo. They can also fire workers like anyone else.

  2. Bingo wokwaGutu

    Hondo yeminda

  3. You will never rig the economy , we need 2.2 million jobs or Mugabe resign now because you are a liar , who doesn;t even shy to speak to the people who you cheated . ICHO

  4. Sable has served its purpose for years. Sable’s method or tech
    nology of making fertilizer uses too much electricity and therefore too expensive. The upgrading or replacement of this technology is long overdue.

    1. Look at the history of the plant. Who built it?
      And then think why nothing new has been built since the 1970s.

    2. @Duri – to change to modern technology you have to first produce with the antiquated machinery and change gradually which has not happened because Mugabe wants to destroy Rhodesian era industries including the one which produces fertiliser for his pet project farming. Mugabe would rather import arms of war from China than machinery.

    3. Just to add my little 2 cents. Sable was formed as an after thought when the Rhodesians realised there was too much excess electricity from Kariba. The plant was mainly viable because of the excess electricity which would have been “thrown away”. The electrolysis plant was an old technology then and it was at the end of its technological life then. The electrolysis plant was acquired 2nd hand and was not supposed to operate after 1985. The blue prints are there in which it states that due to expected electricity constraints after 1990 it would not be possible to operate the plant (these blueprints were written before 1980).

      An approximate US$9 billion investment in a CTL (coal to liquid) plant can convert 80’000 t/d of thermal coal into 50 000bb/d of oil. Zimbabwe requires about 20 000 bbl/d. Therefore it would save Zimbabwe massively on liquid fuel imports. The downstream byproduct industry for such plants is enormous.

      Zesa plans before 1980 are also there which also state that by 1990 at least 500MW of electricity should be operational to avoid power cuts. 1500MW additional capacity on top of 1980 capacity should have been operational by 2000. Its all there. These were the predictions that Smith and Co left behind.

      Its a lot of money but in the 1980s with all the western financial support we had it would have been possible to finance such an endeavors.

      Plans are there but unfortunately no one in Zanu is qualified to read and experienced enough to implement just any 1 of them. Just like all the other plans muted over the years, it seems no one in Zanu quite knows why plans are made or how to implement them.

      Hameno zvazvo!!

  5. It’s high time people from all walks of life tell Mugabe to step down because he has been an absolute disaster to the once prosperous country. The domino-effect of Mugabe’s ill thought so-called “land reform” programme has been devastating for the economy and everybody’s wellbeing. The man has failed. Sable has closed, people are out of work, their children will not go to school, and they will struggle with food and other essentials. Whatever the excuse, Mugabe has failed. The whole idea of African nationalism was to try and make lives better for he blacks but instead this has made lives worse for the people. Mugabe has been trying to re-invent the wheel. I call upon all sensible non-politicians, not least the church leaders to call on Mugabe to leave office. I never imagined that one day I shall find myself saying Ian Smith was a pragmatic and sensible leader. After what I have witnessed in the past 35 years I have no hesitation in saying Ian Smith was excellent.

  6. Thank you ZANU PF!! We remember 2.2 million jobs.

  7. Maybe we all misunderstood the guy. He wanted to say that 2,2milion people are going to loose their jobs

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  9. ZANU PF has always been like this in the hands of Mugabe. But what truly worries me is that no sensible member of this party still rallies behind this nonagerian dictator. He has never one day wished good of us since he was not the intended leader in the first place. He was never been the intended husband for Grace too and again he was not the intended winner of all the elections since 2000.Economy can’t be rigged.

  10. God have mercy

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